It’s National Poetry Month! To be honest, when I use the word poetry, it’s usually not with an exclamation point. I’m not much of a poetry guy, but when I learned that April was National Poetry Month I looked back at a favorite middle school poem of mine, Ogden Nash’s “The Panther”:
The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Man, in sixth grade that punchline really cracked me up. It was the first time I realized that poetry could be funny, light, and entertaining.
But April isn’t only good for engaging in poetry-themed nostalgia. You can sign up for the Academy of American Poets’ poem-of-the-day, delivered directly to your inbox, or visit PoetryInVoice.com, which has a random poem generator that shares a poem you might enjoy. I’d also suggest taking a listen to a new podcast called Poetry Unbound. For me, the biggest barrier to reading poetry is that half the time I have very little idea what is actually happening in the text and what I should be taking away from it. In Poetry Unbound, host Pádraig Ó Tuama, reads a short poem and explores its language, imagery, and meaning, always speaking over relaxing, meditative background music. When he reads the poem for a second time, you experience a sensation of sinking into the poem, in a way that, for me, would be impossible if I were reading it on my own. It’s very hard to describe, but I would highly suggest taking a listen. Each podcast is less than ten minutes long, so you can easily fit it into your morning routine.
National Poetry Month also offers a chance to share your own poetry and be recognized for it. I was amazed to see just how many poetry writing contests are available. Here are just a few for students that are not only prestigious but also come with cash prizes: Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students, Bennington College Young Writers Award, and the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest. For a more complete list of competitions, click here.
With a little reading, writing and listening, I plan to get involved this month, and suggest that you do too.